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NRCS Accepting Applications for 2013 Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program through June 14, 2013

Natural Resources Conservation Service Accepting Applications for 2013 Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program through June 14, 2013

Little Rock, AR, May 16, 2013 � Farmers and landowners statewide have until June 14, 2013, to submit applications to receive cost-share assistance to implement conservation activities through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) for the 2013 program year.

In addition, WHIP funding is also available through the USDA StrikeForce Initiative in the following counties: Arkansas, Bradley, Chicot, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Hempstead, Howard, Jackson, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lee, Mississippi, Monroe, Nevada, Newton, Ouachita, Phillips, Randolph, Searcy, Sevier, St. Francis, and Woodruff.

Producers can sign up at their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service field service center.

“WHIP is a valuable tool to facilitate environmental improvements for wildlife, encouraging producers to be good stewards of the land,” said Michael Sullivan, state conservationist.

The program addresses wildlife habitat in riparian areas, wetlands, uplands, cave ecosystems, and elk and quail habitat. Each area will have specific conservation practices eligible for cost-sharing that benefit certain wildlife species.

Applicants will be ranked according to how the wildlife habitat development plan will effect certain wildlife populations. The plans will be developed according to landowner objectives with assistance from an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologist and NRCS conservationist. The plans will be implemented during a long-term agreement that generally lasts from 5 to 10 years.

A wildlife habitat development plan outlines management practices as well as establishment practices such as planting and seeding. Plans include practices to manage plant succession in fields and forests and may prescribe management techniques such as burning, disking and mowing herbaceous stands.

Plans may also include forest management practices such as forest stand improvement by herbicide treatment or harvesting small groups of trees to create the proper density, composition and age of the stand for different wildlife species. On wetland areas, plans outline dates and rates of water drawdown to encourage different species of annual native plants for waterfowl and shorebirds. The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program is a voluntary program for people who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat primarily on private land.

For more information on the program, contact the local USDA/NRCS field service center.